Harry moment that smacks of hypocrisy

Prince Harry gave a speech during the much hyped Vax Live event but one thing he said could make him seem like a hypocrite.

No wonder Harry always looks so grim in public – the man clearly does not own a single item of clothing that is not some washed out shade of grey or blue.

That monochromatic fidelity was on full display yesterday when he chose the wildly unimaginative combination of light blue and dark grey for the biggest public moment in his fledgling US career to date.

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Taking to the stage at SoFi stadium, the self-exiled royal headlined Global Citizen’s VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, the most loftily named arena spectacular since the Madonna: Let’s Solve The Irish Troubles tour in the early ’90s. (Okay, yes, I jest but just imagine the costumes …)

Harry was not just there as just another famous face; rather late last month it was announced that he and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, were serving as campaign chairs of the event which also boasted Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, Chrissy Teigen and the Foo Fighters on its A-list studded roster.

While the concert won’t be broadcast until May 8 in the US, Harry enjoyed a veritable rock star moment with the crowd greeting him with a standing ovation. (Sadly, knickers have to stay on during these COVID times.)

As theLA Times reported: “Among the luminaries using their celebrity to try to combat vaccine hesitancy and the uneven distribution of vaccines, Prince Harry was the most enthusiastically received.”

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Displaying an easy way with the microphone (has the Sussexes’ neighbour and TV confessor Oprah been giving him pointers?) the Prince gave a passionate speech, saying: “In reality, and especially with this pandemic, when any suffer, we all suffer. We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don’t.”

Truly passionate and heartfelt words. And also, a touch problematic.

At issue here is the core values – of empathy and a focus on our shared humanity – Harry is aligning himself with as he cements his US brand don’t exactly gel with his recent palace-baiting moves.

Harry evangelising about compassion with such wide-eyed eagerness does not exactly sit comfortably with the fact that less than two months ago he saw fit to take to international screens to shred not only his family’s reputation but the institution his grandmother has dedicated her life to serving.

The sticking point here for the renegade Duke all comes down to the ‘H’ word – hypocrisy.

At some stage in the last few years, the 36-year-old clearly has had some sort of Damascene moment, committing to a certain right-on populism that has manifested in him repeatedly using his platform to push for change.

All of this would be nothing short of wonderful, were it not for the discrepancy between what Harry is proselytes about and his actions.

To wit: In early March 2019, Harry told the audience at a youth empowerment event, “Every day you are inundated with an overexposure of advertising and mainstream media, social media and endless comparisons, distorting the truth, and trying to manipulate the power of positive thinking. But you don’t let them sway you.”

Less than a month later, in early April, the Duke and Duchess launched their wildly successful @SussexRoyal Instagram account.

That same year, Harry appeared at Google Camp in Sicily where he allegedly gave a barefoot speech about climate change, the theme of the event.

According to the Daily Mail, the royal stayed on a “gas guzzling” super yacht while he was there.

Later the same month, he took four private jet flights in 11 days. In July last year, he and Meghan were photographed leaving an appointment in LA and getting into a vast Cadillac SUV.

Similarly, when he landed back in California after attending his grandfather’s funeral last month.

Not a great look given the Sussexes once posted on Instagram, “With nearly 7.7 billion people inhabiting this Earth, every choice, every footprint, every action makes a difference.”

Ditto, that he and Meghan chose to live in a nine bedroom, 16 bathroom “compound,” per Variety, which boasts a tea house, children’s cottage and a two-bedroom detached guesthouse. Just what might be the “footprint” of all those loos?

Then there is the fact that Harry has spoken out about racism and his own journey to seeing the pervasiveness of injustice and intolerance that still perniciously exists. Two thumbs up! All the gold stars!

However, what he has not done during any of his Zoom appearances or earnest, wide-eyed public outings is acknowledge his own history here, you know, like the time he decided to dress up as a Nazi for a party or when video emerged of him using racial slurs, some of which he had filmed himself.

Now let’s be clear here: Harry quickly apologised on both of these occasions.

Also, he is not the only Windsor to suffer from a case of a disconnect between his words and deeds. His dear papa Prince Charles has campaigned on environmental issues for decades and yet is reportedly quite partial to a private jet himself.

But, the difference between the Prince of Wales’ ‘do as I say and not as I do when the Sun or the plebeian masses aren’t watching’ approach is that Charles has not staked his public identity and brand exclusively to a certain sort of moralising virtuousness.

Over the last 15 years we have witnessed a number of evolutions of Harry, from party boy princeling overly fond of Mahiki cocktails and the occasional bleary scuffle with the paps, to Harry the devoted and brave soldier doing his country (and Gan Gan) very proud, to Harry the overly earnest self-appointed agitator, charging in on his white stead to save the world from the scourge of social media and CO2.

What no one is questioning for a moment is that Harry’s heart and head are in the right place. Yes, Facebook is doing invidious damage to our social bonds and minds. Yes, we need to take urgent action to counter warming temperatures and the environmental cataclysm that awaits us.

Yes, racism remains deeply rooted in contemporary society and there is much, much work for everyone one to do to address this blight.

But, if Harry wants to take the lead on these topics (and there is something of a position vacant there) then he needs to do two things.

Firstly, he needs to make peace with his past in the public arena. No one would for a moment begrudge him the opportunity to move on from his youthful mistakes but he can’t just hope the world experiences some sort of collective amnesia and forgets that he is the only member of the house of Windsor to have been photographed wearing a swastika.

Secondly, he has to start ensuring that his words and deeds tally up.

Buy a Tesla, demonstrate some kindness and forgiveness towards his potentially frosty family, invest in some solar panels: Whatever it takes to demonstrate that he is indeed practising what he is now enthusiastically preaching.

The world needs leadership and Harry with his heart-on-his-sleeve zeal could be one of the most exciting voices to emerge in the 21st century, though only if he can escape being hoist on his own “gas-guzzling” petard.

The biggest thing that stands in Harry’s way right now to become the charging, global figure he seems to want to be? Himself.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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